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Art and about: COLIN SHEPPARD “Keeping him on the Streets”

Photo: Colin Sheppard

Stroll Fitzroy Street any morning and you’ll greet much-loved St Kilda artist, Colin Sheppard and his dog, Disco. Even on approach, Colin’s sartorial splendour – hand-painted hat, pants, shirt, jacket – is a happy sight.

A man of many community layers, Colin’s personal history in St Kilda dates back to the 80’s. In those early days, he was window dressing for Aerial retail fashion. With eight stores across Melbourne, Colin travelled regional Victoria searching for specifically religious props.  “I was looking to be provocative,” Colin tells. “The deliberately themed Bible according to Aerial windows caused a protest march down Chapel Street. ”   Success!!

He also opened a second-hand clothing outlet, Swamp Thing, in a garage off Smith Street, then the Do it Baby fashion store on Barkly Street.  Learning signwriting from bikies was the beginnings of what went on to be an extensive career as an artist, with cafes, shopfronts, homes, laneways and buildings being enlivened and restored by Colin’s accomplished hand-painted style.
Photos: with Simon Lamb from Black Lamb (Colin’s window signwriting); signage out front of St Kilda Sports Club, a.k.a. the Bowls Club; one of Colin’s series of local doggy portraits at the Galleon cafe.

St Kilda’s life stories are vibrant and diverse: Acland Street thronged with the temptation of bakeries and deli smells, bespoke fashion and jewellery shops for gift buying, the best in fruit’n’veg, meat and fish. I know, because I’ve lived in the area (Middle Park before moving to St Kilda) for 45 years.  On weekends, I walked to meet my Dad for early morning coffee. Rotund, cigar-smoking Jewish men stood chatting outside Scheherazade, coffee aroma wafting along the strip.

Up and over the Esplanade, I went to lots of shows at The Palais. I remember Shirley McLaine, seeing ‘heartthrob’ Richard Harris as King Arthur in Camelot, with a 21 year old Marina Pryor in her first musical theatre lead role as Guinevere. Godspell too was at The Palais.  Across the road at The Espy, well it rocked for as long as I can remember.

Around the corner in Fitzroy Street was another world.  Italian night clubs, strip and drag at The Ritz, Pokies at the Prince, Tolarno’s Restaurant and Gallery (it’s not possible to count the fun dining we had at Mirka’s Tolarno Restaurant).

I digressed intentionally, because Colin and I share cultural, social and flamboyant memories of St Kilda. Importantly, Colin not only fondly reminisces, but he records our local history through his artistic skills.

Going back to those days in the 80’s, Colin shared an apartment with drag performer, Renee Scott. Nightly, Renee worked with Les Girls at The Ritz, and The Prince. “During the day, Renee would stroll down Fitzroy Street in high heels and a gown, walking two long-legged Afghan hounds,” says Colin. “She was a beautiful person, not shy to say what she was thinking.” There were sequinned, feather-bowered comings and goings at that apartment in Victoria Street.  A couple of years ago, Colin recreated his dear friend Renee in a mural on Little Grey Street, behind Fitzroy Street and her stage home at The Ritz.

Further along Little Grey Street, Colin then completed a mural depicting Nick Cave and the Birthday Party, again appropriately situated behind The George where the band played during the Crystal Ballroom’s punk era, late 70’s-early 80s.
Photos:  Little Grey Street murals. Remembering his dear friend, Renee; mid-winter, me up a ladder with Colin, Nick Cave and the Birthday Party.

Over several months last year, Colin worked meticulously at The Palais Theatre, revitalising the backstage area and staircase walls with decorative depictions of the iconic venue.  Other works, beyond the street, include Luna Park, The Esplanade Hotel and his exceptional gilt gold deco painting at The Dog’s Bar which won First Prize at Melbourne Design Week (2017).

A recent challenging project, The Wall of Sound painted on weatherboard in O’Donnell Gardens, required intricate artistic skill, accuracy and continuity. It looks splendid!
Photos:  Backstage at The Palais (Colin Sheppard pics); working on the Wall of Sound in O’Donnell Gardens (Deb Nightingale and Rosie Haenson pics); detail of Wall of Sound.

Colin’s diligence is such that he continues through changing weathers conditions – some chilly days – with pride and artistic integrity. The joy he brings to our community is evidenced by the friends and passers-by who stop to talk while he works, want to be photographed and share his lively art on their social media. “Street art gives everyone an opportunity to see it in exactly the same way, it separates the hierarchy in how they view, everyone’s on the same level,” Colin explains. “And, the stories I get. When I first started thinking about Renee’s mural, I didn’t think many would know her, but I was overwhelmed. There were easily 200 people who came up to me when I was working on it. Some had 30 seconds to comment, others spent 20 minutes telling their stories.”

Importantly to me – and what I believe is measurable – is that Colin’s craftsmanship records St Kilda’s luminous past to present, ensuring its longevity.  As an artist, he’s an historian, an ‘on the street’ archivist. Colin paints the faces of his St Kilda community. “I’m in love with the whole place. In the past, I thought about moving, looked on the other side of the city, but always wanted to come back. St Kilda is home.”

How lucky is St Kilda to have Colin, our very own Man of Colours.
Photo: Outside Metropol, Fitzroy St., St Kilda

© 2024 Text and photos:  Pamela Reid

art and about: Amsterdam

    Amsterdam: bicycles, canals, flowers.

Amsterdam lives and breathes art. Home to some of the most significant art history, strolling this picturesque city is like stepping into a chocolate box cover. Streets are lined with charming, side-by-side “dancing houses”, flowers and hanging baskets everywhere, locals bustle on bicycles. Shopfronts are enticing, smart, quality, bakeries ooze colourful delights.  Getting around is easy. If you’re not in the bicycling mix, the tram and bus systems are efficient.

Map of Amsterdam and its canal belt lay-out

There are 100 kms of canals in Amsterdam, ambling around this relatively small city. A canal trip is a ‘must’, as only from the water can you fully appreciate Amsterdam’s fascination. Like the on-off buses in other European cities, the skipper of your canal journey tells the history, pointing out places of interest, architectural features.  You can also do a cycling guided tour around the city.  The streets of Amsterdam follow the canal belt as if curling around and around.    A look at the city’s map highlights its cultural cornucopia that includes the Rijksmuseum, MOCO museum, Van Gogh Museum, a Da Vinci Interactive experience as well as a Lumières of Dali & Gaudi, Ann Frank House and other historical museums, and a tour of the Royal Palace. For something a little different there’s an Upside Down museum, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, the WONDR Immersive Playground, a Madame Tussauds. Being Holland, there is (of course) a Red Lights’ Secrets visit and a Cannabis Museum.

Photos: the Rijksmuseum; cyclists and bicycles are everywhere: MOCO Museum “In Art We Trust” on exterior windows; where art and history abound; looking along one of many canals. 

On my recent trip, with so much ‘old and new’ art on show, I firstly visited MOCO Museum (the Modern and Contemporary Museum) where there are lots of favourite artists, plus some discoveries.

The Kid: a self-taught artist, The Kid’s large works address social and political themes facing today’s youth. His creative style is described as ‘hyper-realism’, painting, portraiture, photography, created collage-like.  I also enjoyed Nadia Haddad and Studio Irma’s exhibits.

Photos: Art by The Kid.  I Saw the Sun Begin to Dim” uses Pinocchio to represent seeking identity; Nadiya Haddad “I wear my tattoos as a symbol of my own battles”; Studio Irma’s “Diamond Matrix” experience feels like stepping inside a kaleidoscope. 

What a stellar line-up at MOCO!

Photos: Kaws, Damien Hirst, Banksy, Keith Haring, Yayo Kusama.  

Francesco Filiberto Tonarelli’s marble sculpture “David 19” (2021) has the appearance of a Renaissance work, with a pandemic reference.

David 19 – Francesco Filiberto Tonarelli

MOCO is open daily from 9am-8pm.  website The world of Moco (

The Rijksmuseum is breathtaking on approach. It houses more than 8,000 Dutch and European works of art, covering 800 years of history. Here is the place to see all those 17th Century Dutch Masters studied at school – Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals – as well as the Dutch post-impressionists and more recent artists.

Photos:  Around the interior of The Rijksmuseum; Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Red Hat”, “The Milkmaid” and “Houses in Delft” aka “The Little Street”.

Here’s a sampling of other artists whose works are in The Rijksmuseum:

Vincent Van Gogh is there although as mentioned, there is a Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. While he was born in Zundert, Vincent Van Gogh spent most of his creative life in France. His works are possibly the most widely-known of all Dutch painters.
Willem Claesz, one of the principal Dutch Baroque still life painters.
Ludolf Backhuysen was born in Germany, but studied under Dutch artists and remained in the Netherlands until his death. He was known for his seascape themes.
Judith Leyster painted during the “Dutch Golden Age” 1580s-1672, a time when the Netherlands’ trade, scientific developments, art was thriving throughout Europe. At that time, her work was highly regarded, but after her death, Leyster’s work was attributed to Frans Hals or her artist husband, Jan Miense Molenaer.  It wasn’t until the late 1800s that scholars attributed her name as the artist.
Another female artist, Thérèse Schwartze, was born in Amsterdam. Her father, also a painter, provided her early training. She went on to study at Amsterdam’s State Academy of Fine Arts.
I was struck by Dirck van Baburen’s gruesome painting “Prosmethus” depicting a Greco-Roman mythology story where Mercury watches the god Vulcan punish bold and cunning Titan, Prometheus, for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mortals. Prometheus’s punishment is to be bound to a rock and to have his liver consumed daily by an eagle!

Photos: Van Gogh’s self portrait; (detail) “Still Life with a Gilt Cup” by Willem Claesz; “A Seascape with Figures by a boat on a shore” Ludolf Bakhuysen; Judith Leyster’s “The Merry Drinker”; Self-portrait Thérèse Schwartze; (detail) from “Prosthemus” by Dirck van Baburen.

Of all the Dutch Masters, Rembrandt van Rijn is considered by many as the most important. Art students today are taught the step-by-step of painting like Rembrandt, to understand those techniques for paint mixing, application, portraiture. His works and structure are endlessly learned and explored. Since 2019, the Rijksmuseum has publicly undertaken the largest ever conservation study of an artwork, Rembrandts’ Operation Night Watch (1642).  Their process zooms in to the smallest detail, creates 3D scans, examines the layers, paint, effects of vibration on the 380 year old canvas. Information regarding the results of this research is on Results of the research (

Photos: Rembrandt’s The Syndics (1662); educational information on Rembrandt; research project on Operation Night Watch.
The Rijksmuseum is open daily 10am-5pm

At home in Holland
It’s 50 years since I lived in Holland. Returning in 2023 put a big smile on my face, familiar sights, the welcoming sounds of Nederlandse spraaker.

I left England on a ghastly overnight Hull to Rotterdam crossing, where the ferry heaved through the North Sea, the stench of vomit everywhere, and the ‘kitchen’ didn’t reopen for a much-needed cuppa until 9am. I arrived with a suitcase, my flight ticket home to Melbourne and £8! My boyfriend had gone ahead to organise our accommodation and had secured a job as Lighting Director at the Circustheater in Scheveningen, Den Haag. Business in The Hague was almost entirely embassies and petroleum industry. Secretarial office work was in demand, Australians had a good reputation and I was placed at ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Co) on my first day. To secure my visa and stay, I had to hand my flight ticket over to Police/Customs officials at the Stadhuis. They held onto that ticket until I advised I was leaving. My ticket was returned and my visa status changed to the date of flight booked.

What fun it was for a girl living in Holland in the ’70s. I made friends who remain close and I still see. Work life was easy, bars were vibrant, serving saté and bitterballen as bar snacks. The Brain Box had chocolate carpet on the floor, walls and ceiling, with a large table of cheese selection. Waitresses at the Playboy bar wore black leotards with bunny ears (I danced a lot to Lady Marmalade’s Voulez-vous choucez avec moi?).  Friday nights at the British ex-pats club was wine and playing darts.

I fell in love (again) and moved into van Leeuwenhoekstraat with Karin (Dutch, but had grown-up with her family in Uganda), René (Dutch), Mimi (Swiss-French) and Patrick (Irish). Our own little ‘league of nations’.   Many happy memories. One snow-filled night, I sat on the back of Patrick’s bicycle, carrying a flagon of red wine home. I did Joke’s weekly Jazz Ballet classes, and can still remember the first ‘travelling’ steps to “Rock the Boat” (The Hues Corporation).

The Pable Jazz Festival was the best music concert I have ever been to. First two hours commenced with Oscar Peterson, he was joined on stage by Milt Jackson, Joe Pass, Louie Bellson, Dizzy Gillespie and more. Second half, another two hours of Count Basie, a big brass blast and ELLA FITZGERALD!!

Photos from Den Haag: fun in my Fiorucci flares; local cheese vender; Scheveningen beach with René and Karin; jazz ballet teacher Joke; ticket and program from the Pablo Jazz Festival; on van Leeuwenhoekstraat.

“Dancing Houses” of Amsterdam (ink pen and colour pencil) 2023

 © Photos and text Pamela Reid 2024

Art and about: a lens on Melbourne

“Photography: Real and Imagined” at NGV

My home city, Melbourne, abounds with all things cultural: from large music, comedy, international arts festivals, to local community street fun, with dancing and feasting from around the world. Melbourne caters for every taste and budget, special occasions or friendly catch-ups, art, theatre too for all interests musical, ballet, opera, drama, new works and classics. We’re spoilt for choice!

There’s a strip that strolls from CBD festival venues and hubs, past the National Gallery of Victoria’s Ian Potter Centre and ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Images) on Federation Square, to the Arts Centre – State Theatre, Playhouse, Fairfax, Hamer Hall; the NGV International, around the corner to Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne Recital Centre, then turn left to Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and The Malthouse with its theatres and courtyard, perfect for summer nights.  That’s why Melbourne is ‘the cultural capital of Australia”. 

In the last weeks, I’ve visited a couple of interesting and vastly different photographic exhibitions.

PHOTOGRAPHY: REAL AND IMAGINED at the National Gallery of Victoria.
This exhibition explores the purposes of photography whether an historical record, an accurate depiction of moments in time, or an extension of the photographer’s creative thinking, the imagination. The photographer is a storyteller.

Photojournalism has long been an interest of mine, going way back to when Dad gave me my first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie, and a book, “The Family of Man” (Edward Steichen, Director, Dept of Photography, MOMA) about the exhibition originally held at MOMA in 1955 that toured the world for eight years, including Australia. A hugely ambitious project, Steichen invited worldwide photographers to curate a photo essay from beginnings of life to death. It covered the beauty, the grand, the poverty, the war, the celebrations. More than 500 photographers from 68 countries participated.  I still have this book – and several books of, especially, the Time Life Photographers. The Family of Man has been a life-time’s inspiration to me and has been reprinted several times since my first edition.

Photography: Real and Imagined at the NGV exhibits more than 200 works by Australian and international photographers, including several of my favourite photojournalists, from 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.  A wonderful exploration through the camera lens.

Photography: Real and Imagined images.  My (very old) copy of “The Family of Man”
Photography: Real and Imagined | NGV is on at the Ian Potter Centre, Federation Square, until 28 January (free entry)


INK IN THE LINES – The Shrine of Remembrance
I attended the Opening of this compelling exhibition, “Ink in the Lines”, Australia’s modern veterans’ stories through their tattoos. Poignant photographic and audio-visual images of mateship, family, hope, loss, healing, identity and belonging sit sombrely on solid brick walls in The Shrine’s underground museum.

Tattoos are “a conversation starter,” we were told. I spoke with Historian/Curator Stephanie, Director/Cameraman Steve, and Photographer Rob, about their collaborative time in the making of this exhibition. I learnt the breadth of tears and laughter, veterans’ stories previously untold to families and friends. But, these men and women who participated in the exhibition all shared one common purpose in getting their tattoos – to remember.

In Tanya’s a/v story, she says, “Veterans aren’t old guys in wheelchairs. They’re women too, they have kids, that are still young enough to run around the park with their grandson … “

Kev:  “and many, many, many years later, that my brain just went, time to go into shut down mode, time to hibernate, time to pull yourself back from everything and away from everyone.”

It requires time to absorb the force behind these ‘ink’ inscriptions. I was in awe of the Australian War Memorial’s cleverness in the exhibition concept and visual presentation. Words such as valour, potency and a deep respect filled my mind.  Lest we Forget!

The Shrine of Remembrance is a place of reverence for me. I thought about the tattoo my Dad had on his arm, the Prince of Wales feathers.  During WWII, Pte Norman Robert Reid was in the 9th Division Cavalry, fought and was injured in a tank in the Middle East. He told me stories, I have over 100 photographs, telegrams, press cuttings, letters home, but I never thought to ask about that tattoo and why that motif? I can only guess now that it was because our troops were fighting alongside the British allies, perhaps the tattoo was a nod to “King and Country”?

Photos: Stories in ink; Steve the Director/Cameraman; Kev.

More exhibition information in this catalogue.
Ink in the Lines | Shrine of Remembrance is on until 11 February 2024


“BALLET IS FOR EVERYONE” –  Instagram @balletbusker
Bianca Carnovale, Melbourne’s Ballet Busker, adds beauty to our city. When she steps onto her mat, up en pointe, Bianca is mesmerising.   Little girls twirl, all ages stop to admire.

There is much more to Bianca’s artistry than ‘busking’.  She has warmth, engaging with young ones, inviting them to pose and be photographed with her.  She works hard. “Ballet busking” is a long way from being a corps de ballet member.  Bianca travels independently – this year I’m aware she has been to Adelaide Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe festivals, as well as USA, Canada and other Australian cities – responsible for gear, engagements, logistics, coping with varying climates and weather conditions.

Bianca’s commitment to bring the enjoyment of ballet is visible. Parents and grandparents comment on her posts: “It’s like you sprinkled fairy dust around and enchanted the little girl”; “you brightened up our day”.  Onlookers photograph and video her performance for Bianca to share the joy she brings.

I grew up with dance, particularly ballet. While my Mum taught ‘tap’, my sister was a ballet dancer. The first ballet performance I went to, like many children, was The Nutcracker Suite. My sister, a then student at Borovansky Ballet School, performed in this production. We had 10” vinyl records, with the ballet music and narrated stories. (Yes, I too went to ballet classes, and tap, and jazz, but was never interested in being a performer.)  Dance and ballet have continued throughout my life.

My delight now is that I enjoy the Ballet Busker with Grandson, Hugo. He looks forward to seeing her on Melbourne’s streets. Hugo has posed with Bianca and, on one occasion, carried her ropes as she moved from one busking location to another.  She also let him cue her music. Hugo talks about Bianca as his friend, how he likes ‘helping’ her.

Daily, Bianca posts on her Instagram when and when she will be performing. Melbourne is fortunate to have our own beautiful Ballet Busker.

Photos: Bianca performing outside Melbourne Town Hall and Vic Arts Centre; Hugo with his ballerina ‘friend’.

Links for experiencing Melbourne’s vibrant arts scene:

The “Ballet Busker” outside Melbourne Town Hall

© Photos and text Pamela Reid 2023

Art and About: All that glitters in Melbourne

Photo: Van Gogh’s blue irises surround visitors to The Lume

When Shakespeare wrote “All that glistens is not gold” (The Merchant of Venice) he was referring to deceptive appearances, but around Melbourne at the moment there’s loads of arty glitter and glow for all tastes.

Step into this vast 3,000 sq mtr space and you are surrounded by Van Gogh’s blue irises, his starry night, text and haunting music, as his masterpieces are brought to life through projection of moving images. I took my three-year-old grandson, Hugo, who said “Wow” a lot, typical of a young mind, missing nothing.   The Lume envelops you.

Australia’s first digital gallery, The Lume is art entertainment for all ages: sit quietly against a wall and immerse; participate in a ‘draw like Van Gogh’ lesson at your own easel; enjoy wine, pastries, cheeses – there’s a menu for adults and children – at the Café Terrace 1888, and absorb this evocative experience.

The Lume is housed at MCEC (Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre) until October 9. From October 26, a new Impressionist exhibition The Lume “Monet & Friends” will replace Van Gogh.
THE LUME Melbourne – An Epic Adventure into Art  

Photos: Immerse yourself in The Lume (Van Gogh); Champagne (mine) and croissant (Hugo’s) in the Café Terrace 1888
Photos: Draw like Van Gogh; soaring dance projections around the walls and floors.

A fascinating exhibition from the NGV’s collection, Jewellery and Body Adornment has been curated around four themes of history from antiquity to contemporary: Identity and Place; Status and Aspiration; Ceremony and Ritual; Values and Sentiment.

Jewellery and adornment, I learnt, is one of the oldest cultural art forms, significant because it has direct contact with the body. Of course, it made sense when I thought about it! Such personal representations of how you perceive yourself and want to be recognised. I should know, I’ve always enjoyed my jewellery collection whether bought for fashion, received as gifts or a travel ‘treat’. From an early age, I had a gold Christening bracelet with a heart lock, then my first gold wristwatch for my 13th birthday (now you are a teenager). In the 60s, I wore cameos on velvet ribbon chokers around my neck. I returned from (1980s) holidays in Bali, my ears dangling coloured wooden parrots and frangipanis. Venice brought spectacular Murano glass bracelets and necklaces.  I love brooches too, always adding a bit of zing to my work clothes.  Yes, I wear jewellery and it says a lot about who I am.

Photos: Italian Parure 1860 (and detail), 1826 and 1830; Golce & Gabbana (Italy) CDs necklace; Marjorie Schick “Much ado about twenty bracelets”

A parure is a 19th C matching suite of jewellery, designed for elegant women to wear all at the same time, an ornate feature of Status and Aspiration.

Dolce & Gabbana’s CD necklace was an overt statement of fashion and lifestyle, while Marjorie Schick’s 2006 work “Much ado about twenty bracelets” is bracelets within one larger-than-life bracelet. It’s colourful, clever and quirky (synthetic polymer paint on wood, bronze and steel).

Photos: Pilgrims’ pendants; Suffragettes’ valour medal; Peter Tully’s “Love me Tender” necklace (1977); various; Wedgewood’s ceramic Abolition of the Slave Trade medallian (1787)

The Ceremonial and Ritual theme exhibits jewellery worn for devotional purposes, displaying symbolism associated with religion, cultural identity, life and death. In India, for centuries, pilgrims making long, spiritual journeys wore small metal plaques engraved with images or text to indicate their religious or ethnic origin.  These pendants were made in workshops at temples along the pilgrimage passages.

In 1909, the UK Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) awarded medals for Valour in recognition of those Suffragette’s who had been imprisoned for their cause. Many had gone on hunger strike and were force fed during their incarceration, being permanently injured, and some dying. It is estimated that 100 of these medals were manufactured and awarded.

Mourning jewellery commemorates the death of a loved one, a public symbol of grief. Though not ritualistic Peter Tully’s 1977 “Love me Tender” necklace commemorates Elvis Presley, an ornamental depiction of the adulation given to Rock/Pop stars.

Wedgewood’s ceramic medallion was produced in 1787 by British Potter, Josiah Wedgwood, as a seal for the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Depicting a kneeling black man in chains with his hands raised, it is inscribed “Am I not a man and a brother?”.  Wedgewood made 500 of these for distribution (not sold for profit). John R Oldfield’s (1998) Popular Politics and British Anti-slavery: The Mobilisation of Public Opinion Against the Slave Trade, 1787-1807, refers to the medallion as “the most recognizable piece of antislavery paraphernalia the movement ever produced.”

Photo: David Bielanger’s wristwatch

I have a favourite piece of jewellery in the exhibition: David Bielanger’s witty abstraction of a wristwatch. Seemingly cardboard with staples as hands, the wristwatch is made from silver and white gold. This adroit work turns Shakespeare’s writing on its head as all that glistens looks like cardboard, but could be gold!!

Exhibition is at NGV until June 2023 Jewellery and Body Adornment from the NGV Collection | NGV

Paul Yore’s work is deliciously excessive, it glitters, it sparkles, its queer… and so much more!

Word Made Flesh at ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) is an assembling of the artist’s breadth of work over the past 15 years. Born in Melbourne, Yore studied painting, archaeology and anthropology at Monash University. He works in collage, appliqué, mixed media, needlework. One ACCA gallery space is packed with a vibrant, wonderland of sculptural installation.

Photos: razzle dazzle with lights, fabrics, collage, mixed media of new and found items.

Paul Yore’s themes are equally diverse, addressing pop-culture, religion, politics, history, sex. His text, signs, illumination, images compound and leap out, amusing, intriguing, offending – or not!  Overall, it bedazzles, up close it can be fun, intense, delightful messaging.  Its busy-ness takes time to absorb. Finding the right descriptive words for such abundance is challenging, but I’ve tried. The exhibition is decorative ramblings: camp, sometimes trashy, over-the-top. Enjoy!

Photos: themes in messaging
Word Made Flesh is at ACCA until 20 November 2022

Photo:  Paul Yore “Word Made Flesh”

© All photos and text Pamela Reid/tPRO 2022

Art and About: for all to see

David Noonan’s exhibition “Only when it’s cloudless” at TarraWarra Museum of Art.

Still riding the wake of our lockdowns, I’ve been slowly stepping out and around Melbourne. My city is again welcoming, bursting with liveliness in visual and performing arts. Focussing on exhibitions, here’s some of my highlights.

There’s a whole lot of queer going on at the National Gallery of Victoria, an abundance of this and that, colour and movement. “Queer” here refers to an eclectic mix that explores gender, sexuality and sensibility through drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video and, of course, flamboyant fashion.

The exhibition has been assembled from within the NGV’s collection. Some artists are those who identify as LGBTQ+, others are those who have lived and worked within that “queer” world.

Photos: Romance was Born – Luke Sales, Anna Plunkett; Gumnut Ball Gown – Paul McCann; Body Language – David McDiarmid; Pacific Sisters – Rosanna Raymond; Flamingo Park – Jenny Kees/Jan Ayres; Ruel and Bram – Drew Pettifer.

It’s widely known that sexuality plays an historical role across the arts spectrum, from authors to theatre-makers, performers, photographers, painters. “Queer” and the avant-garde are usual bedfellows. There’s a gallery space dedicated to this. Its diverse and interesting to read the accompanying notes.
Photos: The Victory of Faith – St George Hare; Ring Gymnast 1 – Eugene Jansson; Bronze by Gold – Richard Hamilton; Glad to be Gay – Ponch Hawkes; The Bathers – Duncan Grant; Ntozakhe II – Zanelle Muholi.

Queer is at the NGV until 21st August

A Trip to TarraWarra
Leaving Melbourne for a weekend away in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, we drove directly to TarraWarra Wine Estate and Museum of Art.  On arrival, the vista is sweepingly beautiful. The wine cellar awaits, but first we wanted to see David Noonan’s exhibition “Only when it’s cloudless”.

The gallery itself is a stunning construction, loads of space to roam, with large inviting windows that look out onto the valleys, bringing shards of daylight within.

Photos: Vista from TarraWarra Estate; around the Museum of Art spaces. David Noonan’s “Only when its cloudless” exhibition.

Australian artist, David Noonan’s exhibition (curated by Victoria Lynne) is engaging on every level. His black and white images are collage, using all the greyscales within.  You can sense the spatial distribution, with some works choreographed in a theatrical manner.

Photos: Works and detail from David Noonan’s exhibition. 

After soaking up “Only when it’s cloudless”, we indulged in a glass of TarraWarra 2021 Pinot Noir Rosé with a plate of terrine and cheese.  A visit to TarraWarra can’t be recommended highly enough.  It’s a delicious experience for all the senses.

David Noonan “Only when it’s cloudless”  closes 10 July.

At the Jewish Museum in St Kilda there’s an exhibition that resonates with my early life. It’s a celebration of Helmut Newton’s photography (born Helmut Neustädter 1920, Berlin) whom I came to know as Australia’s most famous fashion photographer.

Helmut had his first camera at 12 years of age. He left school at 16 to become apprentice to Berlin portrait photographer, “Yva” (Else Neuländer-Simon). He fled Hitler’s Berlin, living in Singapore for two years, before arriving in Australia on the Queen Mary in 1940.

My memories of his black & white photography are that he transformed the ‘focus’ on women in fashion. They were proudly sexy, evocative, he captured female beauty as something remarkable. Always these women had an alluring presence.

Photos: Helmut Newton, Photographer:  Women – fun, beautiful, sexy, evocative.

Helmut Newton set up his studio at 353 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, the beginnings of our rag trade strip known as ‘The Lane’, where clothing and millinery designers emerged with glamour and pizazz. His photography featured in Vogue and other respected fashion magazines. His subjects became ‘cover girls’, notably Maggie Tabberer, perhaps Australia’s best-known fashion model of the times, and forever into her career.

Included in the Helmut Newton In Focus exhibition is a video room of short films. I sat through them all. They told much history of what I remember about growing up in Melbourne as a little girl whose Mum had worked as a pattern maker/seamstress in Flinders Lane during the 1930/40s. There were gowns in Mum’s wardrobe that dazzled with satin and sequins. These were ballgowns and bridesmaid dresses, embroidered and appliquéd. Mum could make a pattern for anything from a light summer dress to a lined, winter coat. Watching the videos, it amused me to hear that, back in those exciting times for Melbourne fashion, mothers told daughters, “It’s not good to work in Flinders Lane. It’s not proper”. I bet my Mum, Vera, loved it!

Helmut Newton lived a celebrity life, photographing his famous, creative friends around the world.  What his camera captured was elusive to most. It’s a truly wonderful exhibition.

Photos:  David Bowie; David Hockney, Andy Warhol; Vogue magazine covers featuring Maggie Tabberer; b/w photography; Helmut Newton; my Mum, Vera (left), strutting her style in Flinders St, April 1935. 

Helmut Newton In Focus is on until 29 January 2023

The NGV is for everyone!
I’m finishing writing this blog back where I started – at the National Gallery of Victoria, where there’s so much for children’s interest and interaction.   On arrival, Julian Opie’s illuminated birds stroll the lawn strips outside the gallery. The NGV’s waterwall on the front façade has been there since the gallery opened its site in 1968. Thirty years later, when the NGV was re-designed, there was public protest that this popular feature would be removed with the new plans by Italian architect, Mario Bellini. The waterwall stayed for generations, families, tourists, all visitors, their joy and playfulness.  I’ve taken many photos of the waterwall over the years, with my daughter when she was little and we’d regularly visit the gallery, and now with her son, my grandson.

Photos:  Julian Opie birds; the waterwall; looking around; another Julian Opie favourite, the “wee wee boy” fountain.

The current interactive kiddies’ section has a room for building shapes, another room has fun interactive where their face is photographed and they create a Fornacetti style body.  The information desk provides ‘scavenger hunt’ cards based on colour and finding objects. The little ones can roam any gallery space, looking around, observing, always excited to find a lady wearing a hat or a dog in a painting.  Our favourite place for colour is the Great Hall, where we lie on cushions, pointing to colours in the Leonard French glass ceiling. What is most engaging, as a parent/grandparent, is that you don’t lead or suggest. The children engage solely on their own understanding, while you sit back and enjoy.  Further, the NGV offers online learning sessions from Under 5s up to secondary level education for teachers and students to participate.

Photos: building; making Fornacetti face and body; collage; seeing colours; found ‘wood’

Victoria is fortunate to have our wonderful National Gallery of Victoria.
The NGV is open 10am-5pm daily 

Photo: Helmut Newton In Focus exhibition. 

© Images of all works belong with the artists/photographer
© All photos and text Pamela Reid/tPRO 2022